(JTA) — Israelis were not sure their country would survive. American Jews were not sure how to respond.
Fifty years after the Yom Kippur War — which broke out on the holiest day of the Jewish calendar in 1973 and lasted for about three weeks — some of those who lived through that time are seeing another crisis play out again in the present day, as Israelis have been locked in civil strife over their government’s effort to weaken the Supreme Court.
But those who remember the 1973 war say there are two major differences between now and then: The threat to Israel today is not existential, they say, nor is it external. This year, Israelis are fighting amongst themselves.
In interviews, four veterans of the war and a Jewish American official who was at the center of his community’s response to it recalled vivid memories of the events, and spoke about the war’s echoes in the present day, as masses of Israelis see a threat to Israel’s democracy in the government’s proposed judicial overhaul. The Israelis who support the overhaul say that it will curb an activist judiciary and allow the elected government to better represent its right-wing base.
A government failed
Israelis were caught off-guard by the war, in part because their leaders did not heed the warnings from some intelligence officials who saw the Egyptian and Syrian armies build up forces that were poised to attack. The armies were positioned on the borders of the Sinai Desert and Golan Heights, next to territories Israel had captured in the 1967 Six-Day War.
“Israel was not prepared, in many ways we did not have military answers,” said Itzhak Brook, an Israeli physician who was serving in the military, attached to a supply battalion in the Sinai. “I think a lot of it was arrogance, a society that felt we were invincible, the euphoria that happened after the Six-Day War.”
Hillel Schenker, who was deployed to the Golan Heights to lay mines, said the anger at the country’s leadership was soon expressed in the streets — presaging the Israel of 2023.
“Soon there were thousands of people joining the protests against [Defense Minister Moshe] Dayan,” he said. “And soon there were thousands of people joining the protest against Dayan and to a degree also against Golda” Meir, then the Israeli prime minister. The protests eventually helped bring down Meir’s government and led to her replacement by Yitzhak Rabin.
The resonance in the United States
The three Americans who were among the veterans interviewed by the Jewish Telegraphic Agency said communicating within Israel during the war was a challenge — and staying in touch with relatives in the United States was much harder. They did not know until after the war how traumatized the American Jewish community was.
Allan Feldman, who was a sapper, tracking and destroying explosive ordnance, recalled that his mother in Baltimore managed to get through to him at a time when making a call often meant walking a considerable distance to pick up the phone.
“I’m an only child, and I had a hysterical mother,” he recalled. “So we were in touch.”
Abe Foxman, then a senior official in the Anti-Defamation League, which he would later lead for nearly three decades, said the American Jewish community was beside itself at the time.
“After ‘67, there was this euphoria, and after ‘73, there was this sadness, this pallor,” he said. “There was just this traumatic moment that God forbid, we could have lost Israel.”
Brook, who was born in Israel and who left eight months after the war to pursue a medical fellowship in the United States, said he was taken aback when he arrived stateside: American Jews had been traumatized, but with the passage of time it was no longer as immediate as it had been for Israelis.
“Many American Jews did not understand what Israel went through or what I went through,” he said. He wrote a book about his experiences, called “In the Sands of Sinai: A Physician’s Account of the Yom Kippur War.” He has delivered more than 200 lectures in person and via video chat to sustain the memory of the war.
A war that forever changed lives and a country
“Three weeks before the war, I did an idyllic tour of reserve duty in Dahab in the Sinai for a month,” Schenker recalled, referring to the Red Sea coastal resort that was, while it was under Israeli rule, a hub for alternative lifestyles. “We had no sense, no inkling that a war was coming.”
Schenker, who was from New York, had connections to the city’s folk scene and ambitions of launching a singing career in Israel, or perhaps pursuing a career in academia.
“The Yom Kippur War totally transformed, eliminated those paths and what happened to me is that I said, now the major challenge that I have and that my generation has is to try to achieve peace to prevent another outbreak like this one,” he said. He became a peace activist, helping to establish the activist group Peace Now, which grew to become one of Israel’s leading left-wing nonprofits.
Feldman said he was pleased that he avoided serving in the U.S. military’s war in Vietnam, and was ready to serve in Israel’s army. But he did not anticipate how much the country would change as a result of the war — becoming in his view more militaristic, more religious and more committed to West Bank settlement. He sees those trends in the present day.
“This is not the Zionist dream that I had,” he said. “What is going on with the extreme right wing government. I’m too worried about where Israel is going to worry about where it has been.”
Dave Holtzer, who served on guard duty during the war, also sees worrying resonances today.
“Then, it was a threat because the Syrians were going to kill us all,” Holtzer said. “Here, they’re not going to kill us, they’re just going to take away our democracy.
Brook, in his presentations to Jewish communities, describes the moment that he knew Israel would change forever.
“We evacuated a group of soldiers to a field hospital and as I walked out, I saw the sight of a hospital tent and a row of stretchers,” he said in a presentation he prepared in 2020 and shared with JTA. “Each of them was covered with a blanket. All you could see was shoes. Some were brown — paratroopers; some were black — armored corps or artillery.”
He recalled thinking, “The families of those men don’t know, and in a few hours someone will knock on their door and change their lives forever.”
As much as memorializing the Yom Kippur war has preoccupied him, Brook says he perceives a different and in some ways graver threat now.
“The threat to Israel is not so much from the militaries of the major Arab countries, the threat is the nuclear threat from Iran, the terror from Gaza and Lebanon, and also the internal strife in Israel because of the controversy over the judicial system,” he said. “That threat is even greater than the war — in war everyone is united, right now Israelis are divided.”
American Jews are more invested now
Instantaneous communication means that American Jews are more likely to be invested in the current crisis, Holtzer said.
“People ask what’s going on, they’re in touch everyday,” said Holtzer.
Feldman marvels at how he is in daily contact with his Israeli-raised son, who lives in the United States. “We talk almost every day on the laptop or you know, we see him and the kids on the screens,” he said.
Schenker said his American friends and family have an immediate sense of the crisis. “We didn’t have WhatsApp or Zoom or anything else,” he said. “My daughter in New York sends me photos of herself, demonstrating against Netanyahu.”
The post 50 years after the Yom Kippur War, veterans see echoes in Israel’s current crisis appeared first on Jewish Telegraphic Agency.
The Jewish Sport Report: The Hughes brothers make even more Jewish hockey history
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Hello and Happy Hanukkah!
What do sports and Hanukkah have in common? Sure, there’s lots of fried food involved, but I’m talking about the idea of miracles. Underdogs. Victory against all odds.
A couple years ago, the Jewish Sport Report team put our heads together and listed what we thought were the eight greatest Jewish sports miracles ever — one for each night of the holiday — plus a shamash to ignite them all.
Check out our list here, and let us know what other Jewish sports miracles you would put on your hanukkiah.
The National Hughes League
Jack, Luke and Quinn Hughes made Jewish hockey history this week when they became the first trio of Jewish brothers to play in the same NHL game (and I thought my two brothers and I had a shot…).
Jack and Luke’s New Jersey Devils came out on top against Quinn’s Vancouver Canucks in what many dubbed the “Hughes Bowl.” But all three brothers showed why they’re among the NHL’s brightest stars: Jack scored a goal with two assists, Luke scored a power play goal (assisted by Jack) and Quinn had two assists.
“I thought both Luke and Quinn played really well,” Jack Hughes told ESPN after the Devils’ 6-5 win. “A lot of fun to play with them.”
“Getting a picture in warmups was pretty cool,” Luke said. “I haven’t really let it all sink in yet. For me, it’s seeing him off ice, I haven’t seen (Quinn) in a couple of months, and it’s been the five of us. Our whole family has been here for two days, going to dinner and hanging out. It’s been great for our family.”
Canadian-Israeli businessman Sylvan Adams donated $100 million to Ben-Gurion University in Beersheva as southern Israel works to rebuild after Hamas’ Oct. 7 attack. Adams, who won a cycling world championship for Israel earlier this year, has been a significant supporter of the sport’s growth in the country.
MATCHMAKER, MATCHMAKER. Speaking of $100 million donations, New England Patriots owner Robert Kraft is giving another $100 million to his Foundation to Combat Antisemitism as a matching donation after the Norman R. Rales and Ruth Rales Foundation pledged the same amount.
BRIGHT FUTURE AHEAD. Here’s a name Jewish hockey fans will want to know: Zeev Buium, a star defenseman at the University of Denver who is considered among the top prospects for the 2024 NHL Entry Draft. Buium’s mother Miriam played pro basketball in Israel.
HOMESICK. Injured Tottenham player Manor Solomon said this week that it’s been hard to think about anything other than the ongoing war in his home country. “These days are truly terrible,” he told the Israeli news site Ynet. “Every day, you just look at the news and your phone, and the television is on all the time to see what’s happening. We all hope that all the hostages will return and that there won’t be any more losses for us.”
FLYING HIGH. Businessman David Rubenstein may soon add another line to his already lengthy resume. Rubenstein, the cofounder of a private equity firm who also chairs the Kennedy Center for the Performing Arts (among a number of prestigious chairmanships) is reportedly interested in buying his hometown Baltimore Orioles. Bloomberg estimates Rubenstein’s net worth at $4.6 billion.
Jews in sports to watch this weekend
Deni Avdija and the Washington Wizards face the Brooklyn Nets tonight at 7:30 p.m. ET. Domantas Sabonis and the Sacramento Kings play the Phoenix Suns tonight at 9 p.m. ET. In the G League, Amari Bailey and the Greensboro Swarm face the Delaware Blue Coats tomorrow at 6 p.m. ET, and Ryan Turell and the Motor City Cruise take on the Windy City Bulls Sunday at 6 p.m. ET. The Orthodox prospect has not seen much playing time yet this season.
Jake Walman — who will soon have his own bobblehead — and the Detroit Red Wings host Jakob Chychrun and the Ottawa Senators tomorrow at 7 p.m. ET. Devon Levi, who’s back in the NHL after a brief AHL stint, and his Buffalo Sabres host the Montreal Canadiens tomorrow at 7 p.m. ET. Sunday at 4 p.m. ET, Jack and Luke Hughes’ New Jersey Devils face off against Zach Hyman’s Edmonton Oilers.
Here’s the Jewish schedule for Week 14 in the NFL:
Sunday at 1 p.m. ET: Michael Dunn and the Cleveland Browns host the Jacksonville Jaguars.
Sunday at 4:05 p.m. ET: Jake Curhan and the Seattle Seahawks play the San Francisco 49ers, while Greg Joseph and the Minnesota Vikings face the Las Vegas Raiders.
Sunday at 8:15 p.m. ET: A.J. Dillon and the Green Bay Packers play the New York Giants on “Sunday Night Football.”
After a rough 5-0 loss against Fulham on Wednesday, Matt Turner and his Premier League club Nottingham Forest host the Wolves tomorrow at 10 a.m. ET.
Cleats for a cause
The Minnesota Vikings will be sporting Israel-themed cleats on Sunday. The shoes feature Stars of David, Israeli and American flags and the phrases “I Stand With Israel,” “Am Yisrael Chai” and “Bring Them Home.” The team is owned by Mark Wilf, a Jewish philanthropist who’s currently serving as chairman of the board of the Jewish Agency for Israel.
This Sunday against the Raiders, various people within the Vikings organization will be supporting Israel on their feet.
Kicker Greg Joseph’s cleats and sneakers that will be worn by the Wilfs and team CEO Andrew Miller.
— Darren Rovell (@darrenrovell) December 8, 2023
The post The Jewish Sport Report: The Hughes brothers make even more Jewish hockey history appeared first on Jewish Telegraphic Agency.
California Coffee Shop Apologizes for Anti-Israel Employees Blocking Jewish Woman From Bathroom With Antisemitic Graffiti
Farley’s Coffee in Oakland, California, issued an apology on Thursday after three staffers at the family-owned coffee shop blocked a Jewish woman from using the store’s restroom, which will filled with antisemitic graffiti, and made anti-Israel comments.
The Jewish woman recorded a video, later shared on social media, that showed employees at Farley’s Coffee standing in front of the door to the bathroom and asking her to leave the shop. The employees did not want the woman to go inside the bathroom and record antisemitic graffiti that said “Zionism=Fascism,” and also accused her of “misgendering” an employee.
In a statement posted on Instagram, Farley’s Coffee insisted “we’re not antisemitic,” and said it is “committed to ongoing staff training” after the incident.
“We do not support hate speech; this does not reflect our values,” the coffee shop said. “After a customer used the bathroom and wished to return to document the graffiti, they were initially denied access and then allowed to re-enter to document the graffiti. The staff handled the situation poorly, and we apologize for this error and the distress caused to the customer.”
The video recorded by the Jewish woman showed her repeatedly telling the three coffee shop staff members she wanted to use the restroom. One employee, seen wearing a yellow beanie and a face mask, told her: “This is a private property. I do need you to leave.”
Another employee — wearing glasses, a black shirt, and a black apron — chimed in and said: “We’ve given you all your food. You’ve eaten, you’re holding up s—t. I know Israel loves taking private property and saying it’s their own, but we gotta head …”
A third employee, who had dyed blue hair and was wearing a red face mask, remained silent during the ordeal but stood in front of the restroom’s closed door.
“I want to go into the restroom,” the woman said repeatedly, noting that she “was patroned here” and had “a right to go into the restroom.” The coffee shop employees keep telling her she needed to leave the establishment.
The back and forth continued for some time until another person, who claimed to work next door, offered to let the Jewish woman use their restroom. But the Jewish woman said she wanted to specifically use the one at the coffee shop and “should not be excluded and other people allowed.” The employees kept on denying her entry until one of them told the woman she could use their other restroom.
“No, I want to use this,” the woman said. A Farley’s Coffee employee then replied, “All you want to get is a video of it saying that Zionism is fascism. Because it is.”
“If you agree with it, why are you afraid that I will take a picture of it?” the Jewish woman replied. Finally, the third employee opened the bathroom door for the woman.
The woman entered and recorded the words “Zionism = fascism” written on the frame of the mirror that was above the bathroom sink. While recording the graffiti, one employee shouted, “History doesn’t start in 1948, lady,” referring to the year that the modern state of Israel was established. The Jewish woman then recorded the baby changing station inside the bathroom where someone had written, with spelling errors, that “your neutrality” is enabling “genocide” and “Free Palestine.” Two of the employees then said “Free Palestine” as the Jewish woman continued recording.
Oakland, CA – 3 antisemitic employees at Farley’s East coffee house (33 Grand Ave.) are filmed denying a Jewish woman’s access to a bathroom after she complained that it was filled with antisemitic graffiti.
After FINALLY allowing her inside the restroom, the employees start… pic.twitter.com/t3rFMyRIDH
— nycphotog (@nycphotog) December 7, 2023
Farley’s Coffee said it has “taken corrective measures with our staff and removed the offensive graffiti.”
Jewish TikTok Employees Open Up About Antisemitism From Colleagues, Lack of Support From Management
Current Jewish and Israeli employees of TikTok opened up this week about facing antisemitism at the Chinese-owned social media company following the Hamas terrorist attacks on Oct. 7 in southern Israel and the ensuing war between the Jewish state and the terror organization controlling Gaza.
The employees, who opted to stay anonymous, detailed to Fox Business being targeted by coworkers of the video-sharing app with harassment and even calls to boycott companies and products related to Israel. They also said employees openly express antisemitic and anti-Israel sentiments on the company’s internal chat system, Lark.
Screenshots obtained by Fox Business even show multiple TikTok employees celebrating the Oct. 7 Hamas massacre and promoting the Boycott, Divestment, and Sanctions (BDS) movement against Israel. The screenshots also show that even after Jewish employees reported to their managers about feeling threatened, TikTok failed to address their concerns.
One employee said many Jews working at TikTok feel like the company “no longer has any control over the 40,000 moderators working to fact-check and remove content that is inflammatory, inciting, and simply incorrect.” Another employee said, “The teams dealing with policy at TikTok have always been overwhelmingly staffed with individuals who are openly hostile to Israel and whose opinions often blur the lines on antisemitism.”
The same employee claimed that TikTok allows “the permissible posting of anything violent or gory relating to issues sympathetic to Palestinians. But when videos depicting evidence of atrocities against Jews are removed before the world can see them, we then feel that the world’s most popular media platform is working against us as a people.”
The Jewish employees who spoke to Fox Business all expressed similar sentiments that they have received insufficient support from senior management at TikTok in response to their concerns.
“Currently, the atmosphere for Jewish employees at TikTok is very difficult,” said a Jewish employee based in the US. “We feel we were not provided with the relevant support that was afforded to our peers working in other tech companies at the outset of the conflict. We feel that we had to fight for recognition that something horrible had happened to us and fight for recognition of our very difficult feelings of insecurity.”
The same employee said Jews working for the company feel they “should keep his or her head down far more than any other minority in terms of expressing themselves culturally or politically.” In addition, the employee added, “many of us who expressed this to our [human resources] HR representatives were simply shrugged off.”
A TikTok spokesperson denied the claims made by the employees, saying they “do not reflect the experience of the majority of our employees.”
“TikTok has strong policies against discrimination and harassment in the workplace, and employees are encouraged to report their concerns – anonymously if they so choose,” the spokesperson said to Fox Business. “Every incident is investigated by the appropriate internal team.”
“Hateful ideologies, including antisemitism, are not and have never been allowed on our platform,” the spokesperson added. “From Oct. 7 to Nov. 17, we have removed more than 1.1 million videos in the conflict region for breaking our rules, including content promoting Hamas, hate speech, terrorism ,and misinformation. Community guidelines are applied equally to all content, and our recommendation algorithm does not ‘promote’ one side of an issue over another.”
In November, a group of more than 50 Jewish TikTok social media influencers, content creators, and celebrities blasted TikTok in an open letter for not doing more to counteract antisemitism and online hatred on the platform. Many of them — including Sacha Baron Cohen, Debra Messing, and Amy Schumer — then participated in a private video call with TikTok executives and accused the video-sharing app of “creating the biggest antisemitic movement since the Nazis.”
“There are Jews [working within TikTok and outside] who are trying to fight this antisemitism,” said one of the employees who spoke to Fox Business. “But there are two problems. One is that people are afraid of losing jobs and are therefore not speaking out enough. The other problem is that those at the top do not really care about fighting this and are making no real effort to change it.”
Several members of the US Congress are also pushing to ban TikTok in the US, arguing in part that the platform, which is owned by the Chinese company ByteDance, is a national security concern and also promoting anti-Israel content as the Israel-Hamas war rages on.
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